What is user research and why is it a requirement?

Date adopted: 
September 9, 2022
Last update: 
September 14, 2022

What is user research?

User research is the set of techniques we use to learn about people who use government services.

Project teams must conduct user research on all public-facing digital services. This will help them meet digital service standards #1, 2, 8, 9 and 14.

It is worth the time and effort to conduct user research because it will:

  • help focus the work on the end user's goals;
  • bring usability issues to the surface so you can address them; and
  • provide opportunities to improve the service design.

Focus on peoples' goals

Think about the specific things or tasks people need to do on your website or service. eServices has worked with many different project teams over the years. When we start a project, most teams want to create an experience on their website or service. They envision users finding one page and then hanging out to explore and discover more about what the government does. And they want to design services that help users do this. 

The only problem is that people do not come to a government website or access a government service to explore and hang out. They are only there to do something specific.

Focusing on peoples' goals is how the government delivers the best customer service experience possible. 

Interacting with the government should be a simple, straight-forward process for citizens

Conducting user research:

  • ensures digital services will work for the people who rely on them; and
  • is how we can learn and create better digital services.

Engaged Yukoners are willing to take part in user research

Yukoners are engaged people. They are willing to participate in user research studies. After they take part, circle back and thank them for their time. You can also let them know how their contribution helped form the final service. 

User research benefits the government

In addition to creating a good user experience for citizens, conducting user research also benefits the government.

  • It can lower project costs because we can:
    • discover and incorporate features sooner rather than later;
    • learn and make adjustments throughout the project. This is an improvement over finding out you have issues that delay the launch and add to the budget; and
    • creates alignment for the project team. Decision-making is focused on end user goals rather than personal opinion; and
  • Reduces the number of user inquiries and complaints.
  • It can improve the time needed to deliver a digital service
  • Improves processes to make service delivery more efficient.
  • Project teams understand what the solution is. There are no delays or surprises when it comes time for approvals.
  • Minimize risks when you launch your service to the public.
    • You can be confident you’ve addressed barriers uncovered through user research.
    • You will have a plan to address minor issues in the weeks after launch.

How to meet the digital service standards

At the end of Discovery

At the end of Discovery you should have produced some initial user research.

If an eServices UX manager has led a Discovery workshop with your team you will have:

  • identified your main user groups
  • identified met and unmet user needs
  • identified current usage for the service through analytics or paper transactions.

If you've worked with a vendor in Discovery, you might have produced additional artifacts. For example:

  • user personas
  • card sort
  • rough sketches or wireframes.

Testing your service

Throughout development it's important to test the service with your user groups. The number of people you test and the number of rounds of testing you do will depend on the complexity of the service. Generally speaking, we recommend you test between 3 and 5 users in at least 2 rounds of testing. The participants in each round of testing should be new. 

Some teams will test users in User Acceptance Testing (UAT) where they will address any issues that testing reveals. They will then re-test in Production (Prod) to confirm issues are addressed and possibly identify any more issues.

Service maturity assessments

The eServices UX manager will be checking in with your team at the end of each stage of development. We call these service maturity assessments. In these sessions, they will ask about your findings and make recommendations.